Is Mentoring Dead?

We've been hearing a lot about the death of traditional mentoring lately. To paraphrase Mark Twain, we believe the reports of mentoring's "death" have been greatly exaggerated.

Here's the thing: mentoring, at its core, is a humble philosophy. Simply put, mentoring involves nurturing and encouraging another person in a way that allows the person to transform and grow in order to reach his or her full potential.

Mentoring has taken place since the beginning of time. (The word "mentor" comes from Greek mythology.) And it will continue long after everyone reading this newsletter is gone.

What will change is the way we mentor, as it has, and as it should. But the concept of mentoring is one that will continue to endure. And that's a good thing.

This year marks a milestone for Management Mentors. We've been in business for 25 years. Does mentoring look the same as it did in 1989? Of course not. Think about that time: email access wasn't widespread. Google and Facebook didn't exist. The oldest members of the Millennial generation weren't even teenagers. From a business perspective, Management Mentors didn't offer software products like MentoringComplete because there wasn't a need or demand for that sort of solution.

As times and technology have changed, so have the ways we've approached mentoring (and everything else in life). In 2014, we have dozens of options for communicating with one another. Google turned 15 last year, and Facebook turns 10 in February. Millennials are just about all grown up and entering the workforce. At Management Mentors, we have several web-based products and e-learning courses that help organizations create the type of mentoring programs that will work for their needs and their audiences.

As for the next 25 years? Who knows exactly what will happen?

That said, we do feel confident in certain mentoring "truths," like the following...
  1. Mentoring is a customizable solution. Choose from a variety of models and tweak the model even further to match your organization's goals.
  2. Mentoring doesn't happen only once in a person's life. If we're lucky, we're constantly being mentored and mentoring others, both formally and informally.
  3. Mentoring can happen outside of work. Some people point to the fact that certain types of companies, like busy startups, don't have the bandwidth to provide formal mentoring programs. Fair enough. But you can still find and work with a mentor outside of the workplace. There's no "rule" saying it has to be someone from the office.
  4. Yes, you can have more than one mentor at the same time. We're finding this is especially important for the Millennial generation (something we'll be talking about in a forthcoming white paper). Creating a mentoring network is perfectly acceptable. (Why wouldn't it be?)
  5. Mentoring, when done effectively, will be a transformative experience for the mentoree. This hasn't changed, nor do we think it ever will.
  6. Mentors often get just as much out of the mentoring relationship as the mentoree. Again, this hasn't changed either, and we don't think it ever will.
  7. It is possible to have an enriching mentoring relationship through new media, like Skype. At Management Mentors, we're big proponents of "face time." We believe people need to be present (physically, ideally) in order to experience the important nuances of the "unspoken" and nonverbal gestures. But we also know that in this global world in which we live, sometimes getting two people together in the same room isn't always feasible. But technology, like Skype, does make it possible to have face time. We're excited to think where we'll be in another quarter century...maybe we'll be able to beam people up for a meeting?
  8. Yes, the way we mentor today will be different from the way we mentor in 25, 50, and 100 years. We'll still be mentoring though, mark our words.

We hope you'll stick around this year because we have lots of fun stuff planned around our 25th anniversary. To start, you'll see an update to the design of our website header where we note our big birthday. Our blog writers have some fun posts planned, including this one that kicked off the year (do you remember what the hottest movie from 1989 was? Click over to find out).

And, of course, we'll continue to address the issues and challenges that face mentoring today, starting with a white paper we're releasing next month on how to mentor Millennials.

In the meantime, we want to thank those of you who've been with us since the beginning, as well as those who've joined us along the way. Here's to another 25 fabulous years.

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